ALMATY, March 3, 2023 – The Central Asia Energy Trade and Investment Forum 2023 that took place in London, March 2-3, convened policymakers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well representatives of international financial institutions and the private sector to discuss the interlinked challenges of energy security, decarbonization, and economic growth. The event, co-hosted by Central Asian governments, the government of the United Kingdom, and the World Bank, focused on promoting the development of more efficient mechanisms for regional electricity trading and identifying coordinated actions to improve regional cooperation and activities that contribute to the transition to a carbon neutral economy.
Central Asian countries have significant natural resources and know-how to achieve sustainable energy security through a transition to clean energy sources. The governments in these countries recognize the need for bold steps to promote cooperation, trade, and investment, and some have begun implementing reforms to create an enabling environment for scaling up renewables.
“This past winter – one of the coldest in decades in Central Asia – brought into sharp focus the need for strengthening energy security of the countries in the region,” said Tatiana Proskuryakova, World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “Creating a regional electricity market that draws on a diverse energy mix can strengthen supply, support decarbonization, boost domestic and regional green growth and create productive jobs in Central Asia so that it can achieve its upper middle-income status in the medium term.”
At the forum, the representatives of Central Asian countries brought their energy sector investment opportunities and needs to the attention of potential private investors and international financial institutions. Preliminary estimates have identified concrete investments for about $20 billion across Central Asia by 2030, including solar, wind, hydro and modernizing national and regional grids for improved trade and interconnectivity.
“With the right enabling environment in place, Central Asia can mobilize significant financing for its energy sector so that it becomes an engine of green growth,” said Charles Cormier, World Bank’s Infrastructure Director for Europe and Central Asia. To attract investors and reduce the overall energy transition costs, each country needs to accelerate the reform process to scale up renewables and build trust for investors in electricity trade. This will require enhancing sector governance and transparency, ensuring financial viability while maintaining affordability for vulnerable groups, scaling up regional trade and a least cost and efficient development of energy systems in the region.
The event was supported by the Central Asia Water and Energy Program (CAWEP), a regional knowledge and technical assistance partnership administered by the World Bank and funded by the European Union, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.